Letter: Keeping Young Minds Engaged in Summer

Letter: Keeping Young Minds Engaged in Summer

To the Editor

To the Editor:

Summer means warmer weather and time for vacations. But it’s also a time when the average student loses nearly two months of academic knowledge.

It’s called summer slide. While two months may not seem like a big deal now, research has shown the effects of summer learning loss are cumulative. Meaning, children who aren’t engaged at a young age while

they’re out of school for the summer continually fall behind their peers, ultimately impacting their chances to earn a high school diploma and their chances – or desire – to continue on to college.

Knowing that less than 30 percent of the jobs today in the United States are designed for people with less than a high school diploma is alarming to me. Moreover, as a woman working in the technology sector I understand the importance of getting children excited about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields early. After all, STEM influences our daily lives. From the weather to smartphones to buildings, STEM is everywhere!

Just imagine – you commit to memory all the valuable information in order to make a presentation at work. Then take a brief vacation and when you return can barely remember enough facts to answer simple questions about your presentation. And because you can’t recall the information, you’re passed over for promotions in the future. Seems frustrating, right? It’s no different for students heading back to school in the fall. Because they haven’t used the knowledge learned during the school year, they lose it and become discouraged.

If at least a high school diploma is needed for the majority of in-demand jobs, the future workforce may in fact depend on us engaging children today so they can be successful tomorrow. Here are just a few ways to keep children engaged during the summer and maybe even spark a little STEM curiosity at the same time.

  • Discovery Education – Connect the Dots - Discovery Education offers a wide variety of free family resources that provide high quality, relevant material for you and your children.

  • National Summer Learning Association - The National Summer Learning Association is committed to ensuring that students receive quality science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in their out-of-school time.

  • Global Digital Citizen Foundation – Global Digital Citizen Foundation curates a list of customizable project-based learning activities organized by STEM subjects.

  • Project Lead the Way – Project Lead the Way empowers students to thrive in an evolving world and they’ve compiled a list of 20 simple summer STEM activities.

  • Children’s Science Center – Children’s Science Center is a hands-on children’s museum here in Northern Virginia, where children learn through play.

  • NOVA Play Labs – NOVA Play Labs utilizes play as a way to teach STEM information to children ages 12 months to 14 years old.

So yes, while summer is a time for relaxing, it should also be a time to get ahead on the upcoming year and gain new experiences. If you have children, spend an afternoon at the park to make observations or visit a museum. If you don’t have children, volunteer your time to read at your local library or make a book donation. I know at Cox, we recently partnered with Daniels Run Elementary School to donate books to the students who needed reading interventions. But it doesn’t have to be a big commitment of time or money. Just know that time invested to keep young minds engaged this summer will pay off in the fall and the future. And that’s a win-win.

Kathryn Falk

Market Vice President of Northern Virginia Operations

Cox Communications